How to Setup a Small Business Office Network
You don’t set up your business network from scratch every day. Thus, it’s important that when you actually do, you do so after careful planning and thinking. While it may seem like a good idea to simply create a basic functioning network that gets your business up and running as soon as possible, it may create problems in the future when you may need to scale your business. Apart from providing the advantage of scalability, a well-connected and planned network is also helpful in preventing data breaches and cyber-attacks.
It is foolhardy to start with networking without laying out a plan first. It doesn’t matter how small your business is, you must always ask yourself a few important questions before you start making hardware purchases. Some of these are as follows:
- How many computers and printers will be connected to the network?
- What kind of software will my employees use?
- How much data will be shared on a daily basis?
- Do I need mobile network protection for my employees? It is possible with programs like Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android
- How much wireless coverage will my business need at this point?
- How important is data security for the network?
- Will my employees need remote access to the network? (in this case, VPN support will be needed)
Getting the answers to the questions above may save you a great deal of time later on. You will be surprised how many people who don’t plan end up buying a network switch that has fewer ports than they require, or a router that doesn’t support enough wireless devices.
Nature of the Network
Once you have got the basic aspects of the network sorted out you have to find out the answer to the next big question: to go wired or wireless?
Setting up a wired network is easy and simple. It is also faster, more reliable, and safer than a wireless network. However, it may make your workplace cluttered, as you have to lay a number of cables and put them through the walls. Also, if there are a great number of computers, then the cost of cables alone can be too high.
Wireless networks are all about convenience. They enable your employees to move around with their laptops and mobile phones easily within the business facility. However, these networks tend to be slightly slower and easier to hack in comparison to the wired networks. Plus, you may have to buy additional equipment to use certain devices that don’t have built-in wireless connectivity (desktop computers, for instance).
So, as you can see, both wired and wireless networks have their advantages and disadvantages. You can choose either depending on your requirements.
Purchasing the Equipment
A typical business uses a router that’s connected to a server. Most Internet Service Providers provide one to their customers. So, you can check with yours. In case they are not providing a router then you can buy one yourself. However, try to avoid going for a basic model. Instead, invest in an enterprise-level model, preferably from a reputed company such as Cisco.
The following are some of the products that you will need to buy for setting up a network:
- Server: For storage, authentication, and DHCP services.
- Router: For connecting your devices to the extranet.
- VPN: VPN service allows remote employees to connect with your office network.
- Firewall: Is extremely important as it protects your network from viruses and data breaches.
- Antivirus: There is always the threat of malicious programs spreading on your network. So, you need comprehensive solutions from reputed brands like Bitdefender.
- Switches and Cables: Will be used if you are going for a wired network.
Setting up a business network, whether small or big, can be quite difficult. So, be sure to take your time and do thorough research on the subject. If needed, you can also consult with your MSP or ISP for help. They can provide invaluable information that may make your job a lot easier.